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American citizen Baquer Namazi leaves Iran after being held for more than six years

<i>AP</i><br/>Baquer Namazi
AP
AP
Baquer Namazi

By Kylie Atwood and Jennifer Hansler, CNN

Baquer Namazi, an elderly American wrongfully detained in Iran, has been reunited with his family in Abu Dhabi, the US State Department said Wednesday.

“Baquer Namazi is now in Abu Dhabi after departing Iran for Muscat; he has been reunited with his family and will soon receive urgently needed medical treatment,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

Namazi, 85, was detained in Iran for more than six years and traveled to the Cleveland Clinic in the Abu Dhabi to clear out a severe blockage to his left internal carotid artery (ICA), which puts him at very high risk for a stroke, his family said in a statement.

“It is impossible to articulate and describe sufficiently how I am feeling. I am just so grateful that after so long, I will shortly be able to embrace my father again,” Babak Namazi, Baquer Namazi’s son, said in a statement ahead of the reunion. “In recent years, I thought this day would never happen. It is impossible to thank all those who helped make this happen.”

IRNA posted a video allegedly showing Namazi boarding a flight with a man dressed in traditional Omani attire. In the video, Namazi was struggling to climb the stairs.

Namazi, who was detained for six years by Iran, was facing health problems and developed further medical issues over the course of his detainment, law firm Perseus Strategies, which represents the family, said in a statement last month.

“Today is a good day for the Namazi family, but the work is far from over. We now need the United States and Iran to act expeditiously to reach an agreement that will finally bring all of the American hostages home,” Jared Genser, the managing director of Perseus Strategies and the family’s lawyer, said in a statement.

The US State Department welcomed earlier reports that Namazi had left Iran.

“We welcome reports that U.S. citizen Baquer Namazi has left Iran, and his son Siamak has been granted furlough from prison,” said State Department principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel. “Out of respect for the family’s privacy, we will not go into any further details. We request that the media also respect their privacy. We are deeply grateful to all of the countries and organizations that have helped our wrongfully detained citizens.”

Namazi was lured to Iran by the government under the false premise that he would be able to see his son, Siamak, who had been detained there at the time. Namazi was instead immediately taken into custody in February 2016.

Siamak Namazi was blocked from leaving Iran after visiting in July 2015. He underwent months of interrogations before being arrested in October 2015.

Blinken on Wednesday thanked all those who worked to secure Namazi’s release, including “the Sultanate of Oman, which worked with Iranian authorities to arrange for his flight out of the country, and the United Arab Emirates, which is generously hosting him and his family during his medical treatment.”

“We look forward to his full recovery and to welcoming him home to the United States,” he said.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

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CNN’s Paul LeBlanc contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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